Anime, Film

The importance of timing; a review and thoughts on Mamoru Hosoda’s “Mirai.”

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Thankfully, this week was much, much easier than last week; if only I could say the same about the next few weeks. It’s the holidays, which is good for a lot of a lot of lines of work, but in my line, it just means shorter deadlines.And that just sucks. I have Christmas Day and New Years’ Day off though, that’ll be nice.

But, this past weekend was nice; I didn’t have any assignments and I got to see my cousin. (More on that later because it’s relevant) And I got to see a showing of Mirai, (known as Mirai no Mirai, or Mirai of the Future in Japan) the new film by Mamoru Hosoda; it was dubbed though…But that’s only because I couldn’t make a subbed one.

It was first Hosoda film, and I only got a vague idea of what the movie was about from the trailers; I was kind of under the assumption that it was kind of time-travel adventure with a boy and grown-up baby sister from the future, who had come back because of something stupid he did that needed to be fixed while avoiding their parents…

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Kun and Mirai

And that was definitely part of it, kind of; but the movie was more about 4-year-old Kun learning about the world, his family, and how to be a good big brother through visits to relatives in the past. He meets his younger sister, his mother as a toddler, his great-grandfather and perhaps most oddly, but most fitting his dog as a fully grown human man.

It’s a very character focused film, with all the weird inane events that you would expect from a four-year-old protagonist. I mean…every single time he goes into the garden, he’s going on an adventure. Which admittedly is pretty interesting. Kun’s father is an architect, so their garden is kind of in the middle of the house between the living room and the entry way; it’s a very liminal space.

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Mirai in the garden. Notice her distinctive birth mark. It’s what lets us know that she’s actually Mirai and not somebody else.

No wonder why a four-year-old would find it magical and mysterious.

Older Mirai doesn’t play a major role or really show up a lot. She’s there, but it’s never explained how she’s coming through time. The why is slightly clearer, Kun has no idea how to deal with losing the attention of his parents and begins acting out, including hitting his little sister…You know because he’s four.

We also get a look into his parents’ lives, who are struggling with their new roles; his mom has gone back to work, while his dad stays home which is a major change for everyone involved. And even though I don’t know any four year-olds, I feel Kun is a pretty accurate depiction of how a kid that age would act to this kind of issue.

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The family dog…humanized

And he has a wild imagination; he pretends to steal his dog’s tail and becomes a puppy; he loves trains, and he struggles with riding a two-wheeler…And it’s precisely these issues that help him figure out his feelings and find solutions.

During the movie’s climax, Kun is whisked away to a creepy version of Tokyo station where he is sent away by a robotic station master to take an enormously creepy and nightmare-inducing train to the “Lonely Land,” where children without parents are sent. He avoids getting on and rescues his little sister before she gets on.

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Kun at the station

It’s kind of out of place, but there’s nothing like a good dose of terror in a children’s film. Plus there’s also a scene depicting Kun’s great-grandpa nearly dying during the second world war. That part felt pretty unnecessary. Imaginary terror is cool, war… I could do without.

While I didn’t find the movie to be impressive, its coming out at a relevant moment in my life. No, I’m not going to be a big sister, or an aunt or a mother… (Thank goodness)

But recently, my family received a call out of the blue from a distant relative, who also happens not to live too far away from where I just moved to. She’s my dad’s cousin, who my family hasn’t been in touch with for over 20-years. She has a nephew who happened to attend the same small, not-very well-known liberal arts college (We even overlapped for a year). And it’s great, because we have a lot in common.

I have a lot of other cousins, but we don’t share the same interests nor to the same intensities. And he doesn’t have a lot of other cousins so that’s awesome.

Plus, I’m learning so much about my family, particularly my paternal grandpa, who died not long after I was born. All I know about him come from dad, so I mostly pictured him as a very stern, kind-of-old fashioned (even for his day) stick-in-the-mud but who really cared about his family.

But my “cousins,” his nieces and nephews, remember him as their cool, bachelor uncle who helped get them out of trouble and was apparently a pretty good Latin dancer. He also taught a few them to drive, which still baffles my dad since Grandpa refused to teach him.

It’s great to share these stories and I wish, that like Kun I had the chance to meet him during important moments in his life.

I personally didn’t love the movie from an entertainment perspective. What is important about the film is the emotional resonance it leaves behind and with its audience. So for me, that what makes this movie great.

And that’s the scoop.

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Score: 7/10

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If you liked this review read: Mary and the Witch’s Flower Needed More Time to Truly Bloom

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Year of Release: 2018

Producers: Nozomu Takahashi, Yūichirō Saitō Takuya ItōYūichi AdachiGenki Kawamur

Director/Writer: Mamoru Hosoda

Japanese Voice Actors: Moka Kamishiraishi, Haru Kuroki, Gen Hoshino, Kumiko Aso, Mitsuo Yoshihara, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Koji Yakusho,Masaharu Fukuyama[1]

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